One week after mocking comedian and Tea Party activist Jim Labriola as "no brain trust," HLN host Joy Behar brought him onto the Joy Behar Show Monday to discuss his involvement in the movement. Behar was surprised by his contention that he had seen no racism or anger at the events he has attended, except from anti-Tea Party protesters, with the HLN host responding: "No, that doesn`t make sense because we`ve seen the footage of them showing things, woman walking with a monkey, another one having Obama in white face."
After Behar, who admitted last week "I'm scared to go" to Tea Party events, asked if Labriola had seen any African-Americans at events he attended, he asserted that half the people he appeared with on stage were minorities, and criticized the media for ignoring black and Hispanic Tea Party members:"I noticed the news never showed any of the black speakers or the Mexican kid and all that."
The comedian and alum of the TV series Home Improvement had earlier commented on the absence of racism or anger by Tea Party participants at events:
On Monday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, substitute host Laura Ingraham and FNC analyst Bernard Goldberg discussed the mainstream media's double standard in handwringing over whether peaceful Tea Party protesters will inspire violence while actual violence perpetrated at left-leaning rallies is ignored. After playing a clip of police officers in Phoenix being hit by bottles thrown by protesters who oppose Arizona's planned crackdown on illegal immigration, Ingraham set up Goldberg: "Why are we surprised when we have some thugs out there in Phoenix over the weekend causing trouble? And we don't know who is responsible, but there was thuggish behavior. Meanwhile, still hearing about the Tea Parties that were largely peaceful, of course."
Back during the Bush administration Keith Olbermann made sure to insist that "we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty" and that "conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law". But that standard seems to have fallen by the wayside now that the dissenters are conservative Tea Partiers.
On Saturday's Good Morning America, reporter Mike Von Fremd downplayed the violence of protesters against Arizona's new immigration law. He spun, "Riot police were called in to try and control demonstrators protesting outside the capital. Most were peaceful. A handful threw bottles at police and were arrested." Yet, ABC derided March's Tea Party rallies as "very ugly," despite the fact that there were no arrests.
In contrast, on March 20, World News host David Muir scolded, "Protesters against the [health care] plan gathered on the streets of the capital where late today we learned words shouted turned very ugly, reports of racial and homophobic slurs, one protester actually spitting on a Congressman." Continuing to fret over those opposed the bill, he complained, "Late word from Washington tonight about just how ugly the crowds gathered outside the Longworth office building have become."
Last night, "back by popular demand," Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity interviewed Brent Bozell in a segment focused on media bias entitled "Media Mash."
Hannity led off with the April 15 video of TEA Partier Darryl Postell being interviewed by NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, who asked him if, as a black man, he felt uncomfortable at the rally. "No, no, these are my people, Americans," replied Postell.
"Let's examine the question a little more deeply, your reaction to that," Hannity asked.
The Pentagon rescinded the invitation of evangelist Franklin Graham to speak at its May 6 National Day of Prayer event because of complaints about his previous comments about Islam.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed its concern over Graham's involvement with the event in an April 19 letter sent to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. MRFF's complaint about Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham, focused on remarks he made after 9/11 in which he called Islam "wicked" and "evil" and his lack of apology for those words.
Col. Tom Collins, an Army spokesman, told ABC News on April 22, "This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue."
So you do your part and pay your taxes to the federal government. However, you feel you pay too much and you don't like how that same government uses that money. Do you have the right to petition and protest that government?
If it's on federal land that your tax dollars paid for, then your protest is hypocritical nonsense, according to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. To her, the tea partiers, who protested on the government land of the National Mall, are hypocrites. Worse, they're getting unwarranted media coverage.
"In the case of the tea partiers, though, mainstream media coverage has been willing to almost assume that they're making sense, even in the face of evidence to the contrary," Maddow said on her April 21 program. "Because the idea of being in favor of smaller government, the idea that government is inherently wasteful and incompetent and should be shrunk, because that idea has shifted from a conservative movement talking point 30 years ago to centrist Beltway common wisdom today, sometimes we don't recognize the hypocrisy when it's right in our face. The conservative movement won the framing fight. It doesn't sound crazy anymore to rail against the federal government while standing in a national park until you really think about it."
Last month I noted Newsweek's Liz White's complaint about the term "ObamaCare" being used as shorthand for the Democratic health care legislation. White griped that the term was "ominous-sounding" and favored by the legislation's conservative opponents as reasons why mainstream media outlets should eschew the term.
Now a full 27 days later, White is back at it with her complaint about the term "ObamaCare." This time, she's citing none other than liberal Comedy Central "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart to back her up:
Stewart immediately jumps on O’Hara’s slip, calling him out on using the “derogatory” phrase and firing back by referring to O’Hara’s book as a “tea-bagger book.” O’Hara stammers for a few seconds and tries to defend his word choice, but concedes to calling it the health-reform bill instead. (It’s a law, by the way.)
Last month, I took on this same issue. Should the bill be called Obamacare, or is that phrase, as Stewart puts it, derogatory by nature?
They suggest that “news” shows don’t go into reruns. But it certainly seemed that way when Bill Clinton marked the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by repeating the same reprehensible smear from 1995. “Anti-government talk” emanating from conservatives naturally, inevitably led to 168 lives snuffed out in the wreckage of the Murrah Federal Building.
On the night of April 16, ABC substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas red-carpeted Clinton’s latest attack with the title “Watch Your Words” on the screen. Vargas identified talk radio and Tea Partiers as the culprits: “There is a lot of attention tonight on comments made by former President Bill Clinton, who has weighed in on the angry anti-government rhetoric, ringing out from talk radio to Tea Party rallies. He warns that sometimes firing people up with caustic comments can have unintended and dire consequences.”
The New York Daily News was even more explicit, with the headline “Bubba: Tea Party Ticking Time Bomb.”
Over the past year since its inception, the media have worked hard to discredit and denigrate the tea party movement. News organizations employed various strategies, from dismissing the protests as astroturf, to using derogatory nicknames for participants, and finally labeling it as a violent extremist fringe. In their futile attempt to get something to stick, the media have become increasingly desperate and irresponsible in their coverage.
In the Media Research Center's special report, 'TV's Tea Party Travesty,' MRC Research Director Rich Noyes focused in on the slanted coverage of the tea parties by ABC, CBS, and NBC over the past year.
On her CNN program on Monday, Campbell Brown forwarded one of the Left's talking points about the tea parties by stating that "it does appear that we are seeing a rise in right wing extremism recently." However, her guest, historian Robert Churchill of the University of Hartford, downplayed her claim and claimed that groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center were "exaggerating" the threat.
Brown brought on Churchill at the bottom half of the 8 pm Eastern hour. Midway through the interview, she made her "right wing extremism" claim and cited "a number of studies that have looked at this. The Department of Homeland Security came out with a study last year saying that, perhaps, it's the economy, or possibly the President's race." The anchor then asked, "What do you see as driving recruitment right now, beyond just sort of the generic more- or not generic, but more general libertarian view?"
Two weeks ago (noted at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the combined audience for the Big Three Networks' Evening News shows for the week of March 29 fell to just below 20 million.
That audience was about 5% less than what Matt Drudge in the summer of 2006 headlined as "TV's Lowest Week."
The Big Three's combined audience crawled back above 20 million during the week of April 5. But Chris Ariens of Media Bistro noted earlier today that the figures for the week of April 12 were more reflective of "summertime viewing patterns" than what is supposedly peak spring viewing season.
One clue that health care is not being well received among the public: Liberal media members, instead of celebrating the wonderful era of health-care access to come, can't stop obsessing over unsubstantiated allegations of racism among Tea Party activists, as if trying to change the subject.
New York Times columnist Frank Rich's super-sized entry on Sunday, “Welcome to Confederate History Month,” is the latest in the string. The text box is loaded with sarcasm: “The Civil War, like the war against Obama, wasn't about race.”
It's an unusually dumb entry for Rich, but typical in content -- beginning with an utterly irrelevant pop culture reference that's neither fitting nor clever, followed by 1,400 words all but accusing Republicans of racism (Rich prefers odious comparisons to direct accusations he'd have to back up).
At least he seems to be reading his criticism, and reacting hotly. Rich is evidently discussing this column by David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics, which directly refuted Rich's previous column on this same tired subject, in which Kuhn lambasted Rich: “All he has are anecdotes of angry white activists. So he stereotypes. It's like a white person who watches a black criminal on the local news and draws racist generalizations.”
For weeks, MSNBC has advertised Rachel Maddow's two-hour special broadcast about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building. This special, aired on the 15-year anniversary of that bombing, was billed as a way for viewers to see what can happen if anti-government sentiment gets out of control.
"So tonight, exactly 15 years later, this special edition of ‘The Rachel Maddow Show' brings you the inside story of the Oklahoma City bombing," Maddow said on her April 19 broadcast. "MSNBC obtained 45 hours of audio tape interviews in which Timothy McVeigh describes the planning and the executions and the motivations behind his horrific attack. This is a detailed account as it has never before been heard, told to us by the terrorist himself."
However, there's an opportunity for viewers to reflect the status quo as they view this documentary, Maddow explained.
On Monday’s Joy Behar Show on HLN, when guest Mark Williams of Tea Party Express complained to Behar and fellow guest Ari Melber of the Nation about Tea Party activists being smeared as racist, the HLN host claimed that she had not brought up race during the segment, even though she opened the discussion by referring to stereotypes about Tea Party activists as she cracked that perhaps public opinion "might drive people to stop making racist signs and wearing hats made of teabags." Behar introduced the segment: "The anti-government sentiment that has driven the Tea Party movement seems to be working as four out of five Americans say they don`t trust the government. I wonder if these same sentiments might drive people to stop making racist signs and wearing hats made of teabags."
But Behar and Melber later developed amnesia as Behar claimed, "We didn’t mention race":
MSNBC's Donny Deutsch kicked off a week-long segment on Monday about "America the Angry" and hinted that the "rageaholics" in this country could create another Oklahoma City-style bombing. After one guest mentioned Joe Stack, the man who flew a plane into an IRS building in February, Deutsch wrongly derided, "I don't know whether he was Republican or Democrat. I'm assuming he was probably a Republican."
In fact, Stack's manifesto, found after his death, included rants against capitalism, George W. Bush and religion. These are hardly the standard comments of a Republican. At times during the interview, Deutsch, who is serving as a substitute host on News Live, seemed annoyed that his three guests didn't agree that the U.S. is on the verge of another domestic terrorist event.
The political inclinations of Hollywood actors, when they're publicly disclosed, are almost always reliably left-of-center. As such, it's quite refreshing to learn of another conservative or libertarian in Tinseltown, especially when the celebrity in question is actively working to advance an understanding of constitutional principles and opposing big government.
Janine Turner ("Northern Exposure", "Friday Night Lights") is one such conservative actress. Inspired by the TEA Party movement, Ms. Turner started an organization called Constituting America.
On Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer asked columnist Kathleen Parker about her views on the tea party: "the rhetoric that's coming out from the right side, especially from the tea party....you think it may be dangerous." Parker replied: "this heated rhetoric and some of these words...that are pretty loaded, 'reload,' 'targeting'...there's a danger there."
Parker, syndicated with the Washington Post Writers Group, claimed she was not casting negative aspersions on the whole political movement: "I'm not saying the tea party people are violent or racist or any of that....I'm not saying that the tea partiers are bad people or dangerous," but warned: "I just think we have to be very vigilant....and be extremely careful, because I do think there is a lot of anger and it could become something else."
Schieffer brought up internet journalism as a possible source of some of the "dangerous" anger: "some of this really nasty rhetoric that shows up on the Internet....the only vehicle to deliver news that has no editor....And that is the added factor to the volatility of this stuff and where it goes." Parker agreed, and moments after warning of tea party extremism, made this comparison: "It's, sort of, like terrorism. You know, we don't know where to aim our bombs, so we can't go after a country because there are – you know, there's no one place to focus on it. And it's the same thing with – with the Internet.You can't really – you don't know who to go after."
The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion, which included Pinkerton, Miller, Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Fox News anchor Jon Scott, starting at the 53 minutes into 2 pm Eastern hour:
JON SCOTT: Ellis, you know, this headline in the New York Times: 'Supporters are better educated, wealthier, and more conservative, poll finds.' It almost seemed to me that it pained this newspaper to write that sub-headline.
ELLIS HENICAN: Well, two things- first of all, can the tea party people get better songs? (laughs from other panel members, as Henican sings, 'I need a bailout.') That said, it's no surprise. The tea partyers are whiter, more Republican, more conservative, older and more suburban than America, and that shouldn't be a surprise to anybody.
New York Times reporter Kate Zernike, the paper's main reporter on the Tea Party beat, dropped all pretense of fairness in her story for the front of the Sunday Week in Review,"Tea Party Supporters Doing Fine, but Angry Nonetheless."Her summary of the movement: "They tend to be white and male, with a disproportionate number above 45, and above 65. Their memories are of a different time, when the country was less diverse."
Sometimes it reads like a parody, with references to Joe McCarthy as a conservative hero. It starts with that chin-leading headline, rehashing the Times's favorite word to describe the Tea Party movement (hint: it's not the word "fine"). An accompanying photo showed a single "Tea Party activist" at a rally near Albany, N.Y. Where were the others?
Zernike boiled down the results from the paper's recent polling of the Tea Party movement, keeping only what could be spun as racial or extreme views on the part of participants.
Zernike started out mildly, implying puzzlement at why the protesters were out there at all, since they have it so good, "wealthier than the general public" and presumably aren't affected by the "government spending and enormous deficits" they are fighting against.
It makes sense that people would take to the streets to protest government spending and enormous deficits during the Great Recession, when they are feeling economic pain most acutely.
But the Tea Party supporters now taking to the streets aren't the ones feeling the pain.
In the results of the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, they are better educated and wealthier than the general public. They are just as likely to be employed, and more likely to describe their economic situation as very or fairly good.
Robert McCartney, the liberal Washington Post columnist, has done something that Chris Matthews and his fellow leftist MSNBC hosts have yet to do: attend a tea party rally without being confrontational and/or snarky. McCartney went to a tea party with an open mind last week and this is what he discovered:
I went to the "tea party" rally at the Washington Monument on Thursday to check out just how reactionary and potentially violent the movement truly was.
Answer: Not very.
Based on what I saw and heard, tea party members are not seething, ready-to-explode racists, as some liberal commentators have caricatured them.
April 15 was a hot day for Tea Party rallies, and also a hot day for liberal talk-radio denunciations of the Tea Party movement. Randi Rhodes claimed it was just a crowd of stupid people looking for a free lunch:
They have a lot of free time to travel about and around the country, don't they? These are the same people that just were in Boston; then they got on buses. They never ask who pays their freight. They think there's a free lunch somewhere on the bus, I don't know. And they just come town to town, and they stand there with their stupid signs screaming and yelling about corporations need to be protected. It's the sickest movement I've ever seen in my life!
Bill Press rolled out the typical line that "I think they want something for nothing. I pointed out before, if you look at this crowd, most of them are older, white, on Social Security and Medicare."
There is a scene in Hamlet when the prince tells Polonius (the Joe Biden of medieval Denmark) to look after the newly arrived theater troop, making sure they are "well used."
Polonius sniffs, "My lord, I will use them according to their desert."
"God's bodykins, man," snaps Hamlet, "much better: use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"
Obviously, Polonius and Hamlet weren't talking about the players' arid, sandy region. "Deserts," despite the old-style spelling meant their "just desserts" or what they were due. Old Polonius, a palace insider, was just reflecting polite society's disdain for actors during Shakespeare's time, telling Hamlet he'd put them up in a style befitting lowly itinerant entertainers. But Hamlet understood that, given the fallen nature of humanity, we need to treat everyone better than they deserve.
Every member of Shakespeare's audience, from a laborer to the queen herself, might have nodded in understanding at that line, accustomed as they were to the concept of original sin.
Here's the transcript by MRC intern Alex Fitzsimmons:
Where are all the big taxers and spenders today? You heard from any of them? But the Tea Party protestors are out there and that's a good thing. All over the country-and the media hate them. And we know this is a matter of empirical fact now thanks to our friends at the Media Research Center. Hat tip to Drudge Report who links to them: MRC.org. And they've done an analysis that reviewed every mention of the Tea Party on ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening newscasts, the Sunday talk shows, ABC's "Nightline," from February 19, 2009 through March 31, 2010.
Now here among their major findings is how our "news outlets" our big news outlets, our liberal news outlets, treat the American people who attend these rallies. They write:
On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, New York Times congressional reporter Carl Hulse, who has in the past proven quite willing to pass along unsubstantiated Democratic accusations of racial epithets hurled by Tea Party protesters, on Friday passed the mike to former President Bill Clinton, who slimed the movement as potentially inspiring similar terrorist acts in "Recalling '95 Bombing, Clinton Sees Parallels."
The text box read: "Finding similarities in past and current antigovernment tones." For good measure, the Times included a photo of a mourner at the site commemorating victims of the Oklahoma City bombing.
Just last month, a Times photo caption linked peaceful Tea Party protesters to the 1960s domestic terrorists Weather Underground. Now the Times is going even further.
With the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing approaching, former President Bill Clinton on Thursday drew parallels between the antigovernment tone that preceded that devastating attack and the political tumult of today, saying government critics must be mindful that angry words can stir violent actions.
"I think that we're going to have a problem if we want to start talking about founding fathers, the founding documents, what the origins of our country because the mainstream media is not going to like what you have to say, and so I volunteered myself," Breitbart said. "And on day one, I had to contend with the fact that you guys were called ‘teabaggers.' And I had to deal with the fact an unfortunately named sister, by the name of Contessa Brewer on MSNBC, before you even spoke, told you what your grievances were to the country and our dissent his patriotic presidency. This person took a photo and cut off the head of a black man, and asked is the tea party nation - are the people who are protesting Barack Obama racist? The person was black."
Some reporters come to Tea Party rallies not so much to cover them as expose them as hypocritical. On Thursday, Boston Globe reporter David Abel began his story on protests starring Sarah Palin in Boston by highlighting the Shirk family, with ten home-schooled kids – and Medicaid health coverage.
For the Shirks, it was a day for their children to seek inspiration from Palin and the other speakers, who questioned Obama’s patriotism and at least one of whom referred to him repeatedly as Barack Hussein.
The couple, who rely on Medicaid for their health care, were also upset about the nation’s new health reforms.
When asked why her family used state-subsidized health care when she criticized people who take handouts, Valerie Shirk said she did not want to stop having children, and that her husband’s income was not enough to cover the family with private insurance.
The media is still having trouble understanding the Tea Party movement and what it is protesting, even though its roots are clear.
On Feb. 19, 2009 during CNBC's "Squawk Box," Rick Santelli made his famous rant heard around the world, calling for a so-called tea party-style revolt. And that helped fuel the growth of a Tea Party movement that has resulted in more than 600 protests this April 15, 2010.
Santelli's call for protest wasn't about high taxes. Instead, it was a cry against the Obama administration's plan for a taxpayer-funded mortgage bailout. The very beginning of the tea parties was about bailouts and the growth of government.
But the Associated Press still seemed to miss the point about worries over an overspending government in an April 15 article by Calvin Woodward about the Tea Party rallies. In that report, Woodward defended Obama's tax policies.
"Lost in the rhetoric was that taxes have gone down under Obama," Woodward wrote. "Congress has cut individuals' federal taxes for this year by about $173 billion, leaving Americans with a lighter load despite nearly $29 billion in increases by states. Obama plans to increase taxes on the wealthy to help pay for his health care overhaul and other programs."